30 January 2014

making faces :: says who?

one of the things that i consistently read about wearing makeup is that you should stick to neutrals at the office. to that i say: pshaw. [which, interestingly, is still accepted as a word by spellcheck even though it hasn't been used since long before the advent of spellcheck.]

i mean, i understand. i know you don't want to be the girl [or boy] who gets known for having the interesting makeup in the office, because then that kind of defines who you are, so that you can never be the smart one, or the creative one, or the one to go to in a crisis. trust me, i did a stint as "the one with the cool clothing" in the office. that's a synonym for "the one whose opinion is never taken seriously".

but that doesn't mean we have to consign ourselves to neutral neverland! [although, actually, i really love neutrals. but that's another blog post.]

i say, onward ladies [or gents, if you're bold] who want to spice things up a little! furthermore, i truly believe that there are perfectly acceptable ways to cheat in a little colour in the everyday. here are a couple of things i've tried...

attempt #1 :: covert colour




it's actually pretty easy to hide colour on your eyes. you can pop it onto the lid. or in the crease. or blend it into the outer corners.

in this case, i just took a predominantly neutral eye look and spiced it up a bit by adding a bit of coral along the upper crease/ lower brow bone area. the neutrals come courtesy of marc jacobs icon 3-shadow palette in "the glam". i need to review that one, darn it. the coral is taken from guerlain's "coup de foudre" palette. or "les fauves", if you prefer. [it's the exact same coral.]

i used urban decay "desperation" to make a nice, sharp line along the lower water line, to keep my eyes looking their brightest. i also find that having a distinct frame for the eyes keeps the coral from turning my eyes into red and puffy pits of dooooooooommmmm. that's not a good look for anybody. [pause for a neutral moment- "desperation" is an absolute necessity. it's a true neutral brown that works with anything. it's cool, so it won't add redness, dark enough to work as a definer and yet it's not as razor-sharp as pure black. ok, back to colour.]

on my cheeks is a mix of mac "my paradise", a stunning golden orange that still has most of the overspray it came with, i'm ashamed to say, and hourglass ambient lighting powder "incandescent light", the one shade unique to the limited edition ambient lighting palette that came out for the holidays. i liked the contrast of a warm tangerine-with-golden-shimmer and a cool pink-white over top. i don't know how much of the effect was actually evident, but i knew, dammit.

the lipstick is my much-adored, already showing significant signs of wear armani rouge ecstasy "attitude", a perfect deep-but-muted red-violet.

29 January 2014

culinating :: soup is good food

i did promise that i would write more about my kitchen adventures...

one of the great fallbacks of the time-constrained chef is soup. what's not to love about something that can be made by throwing the contents of your kitchen into your blender? ok, i exaggerate. there are things that need to be done and you probably shouldn't throw everything into your blender. keep a ladle and a pot safe, at least.

the great thing about soup is that once you've mastered one, you've basically mastered a whole category of soups. they all kind of work the same way. and they're all incredibly forgiving about making substitutions and even the order in which you do certain things.

for instance, i made a big batch of carrot soup with ginger recently. the way this would normally be done is to sauté garlic and shallots [or onions, or nothing if you don't like those sorts of things] and the vegetables [carrots, in this case, but you could use turnip or squash or... well, you get the idea] and the spices [ginger... or simple pepper, or hot pepper, or paprika, or cinnamon...], after which you would add your liquid [broth or water, perhaps mixed with wine or cream...] and let everything cook until it was nice and soft, whereupon you could add some fresh herbs. then you'd puree everything together and voila!- soup.

you have a lot of control over how complicated you can get. what i made was a very simple version involving very few ingredients:

carrots
organic vegetable broth
ginger
orange juice

that's it. once again, i bought minced ginger, because chopping ginger is infuriating to me. but i'm sure fresh cut ginger is 1000% better. yeah, really. i'm absolutely sure.

i also used store bought broth. that is a bit of an embarrassment to me, because i happen to be the daughter of the king of broth. when i was growing up, my father's freezer was constantly stuffed with repurposed ice cream containers labeled "broth". i didn't really know what it was used for, although i knew it was used a lot. and i have to admit, it made for a few disappointing ice cream-eating experiences. but sadly, i never developed the patience and skill to make really great broth [which his was, i now understand]. apparently broth preparation is not genetic.

i didn't squeeze the oranges myself, either. these are the conveniences we turn to.

but when you're pressed for time, it sometimes helps to have an eager sous-chef. so while i was at work, dom cooked up the carrots to ready them for their big night.

wait, what? that can't happen!!

well sure it can. instead of following the usual process, i started by pureeing. i had to go in batches, since my blender could not accommodate five pounds of carrots, two litres of broth and juice and assorted seasonings in one go [i wish]. so i seasoned the batches one at a time, tasting the "master batch" to make sure that the overall was coming out right. then i heated the whole thing up on the stove. and you know what?

it tasted every bit as good as when i do it the "right" way. such is the wonder of soup. it's a great way to practice cooking because it's actually fairly difficult to screw it up completely. [i know, it can be done.] furthermore, you can make it in quantities large enough so that you can have it for days for lunches or light dinners or brunch or... well, the rules of when you can eat soup are as vague as the rules that govern how it's made.

27 January 2014

mental health mondays :: a share of the blame

one of the trickiest parts of treating mental illness is the sheer number of patients who are "non-compliant". that means that once their doctor prescribes a regimen of treatment and medication, it isn't followed and, unsurprisingly, the patient doesn't improve.

there are a lot of reasons given for the particularly high rate of non-compliance, including a lack of tangible results, intolerable side effects and the stigma of being on psychiatric medication and/ or being told that the problem is psychosomatic. other reasons include not being able to afford prescribed medications [particularly in the united states] and simple forgetfulness, particularly if the regimen is complicated.

these all seem pretty straightforward, but i was interested to find a slightly different perspective reading this article from 2007, that takes a slightly different perspective. while acknowledging that most patients are responsible for their own patterns of non-compliance, the article also apportions some of the responsibility to the doctors treating them, citing studies that show that the poorer the communication between doctor and patient, the less likely the patient is to take their medications.

it seems that simply having regular follow-ups helps in keeping patients compliant, and establishing an empathetic relationship is even more important. given how brief and automated most check-ups can be, this last part is a real challenge, because empathy requires careful listening and giving a the patient time to express themselves- something which is often difficult for people who have mental disorders.

with waiting times to see psychiatrists stretching into the years, making more time for individual patients is going to be a longer term project. but i am happy to see an acknowledgment that there is more at issue with non-compliance than just the patients' intransigence. and clearly, the way to deal with mentally ill patients is not simply to medicate them, but to treat them. there's an important difference.

26 January 2014

the crying of page 45

do you love me?
there's been this thing going around facebook all week like some sort of social media herpes. everyone i've been in contact with has had it, or at least a lot of them have it goes like this: you're supposed to open the book nearest you and turn to page 45. magically, the sentence will explain your love life.

i figured i'd give it a shot, since some of the answers were interesting in an "i'd never thought of it like that" way. unfortunately, if i go by strict proximity to my body in the office, where i have my computer, things get a little weird. because almost all the books are in the living room, or possibly in the bedroom if i'd pulled them out to find a basis for me to win an argument look up something in particular.

it turns out that the shelf closest to me is actually the one where i keep my cookbooks. but rules are rules. the winning book turns out to be [appropriately enough] a taste of the maritimes by elizabeth bailey, which is a wonderful source of seasonal cuisine suggesting options for local [maritime] suppliers for key ingredients. and this is what the first sentence of the page has to say:

use this recipe as an opportunity to experiment with local wine you've never tried before- half can go into the recipe and half can go into you [and whoever is lucky enough to be your lab partner]. 

there you have it, folks. my love life is all about getting myself and my partners drunk. and that's probably what many suspected anyway.

at least i didn't end up with a story about getting nails in the head.

25 January 2014

making faces :: what bunnies do

you've heard the similes. the expressions. bunnies are known for two things:

1. being absolutely adorable
2. proliferating

and it's true, that's what happens. you let the bunnies in and suddenly, every time you turn around, there are more of them. what i didn't realise is that this is true not just of the animal kingdom but of my cosmetic drawer. [singular? -ed.] i was seduced by the adorable bunnies, i tumbled thither and non down the rabbit hole. and now, every time i turn around, there are more of them.

i wish. i know exactly where these bunnies are coming from and it's no accident. they ventured from europe because i ordered them direct from the rouge bunny rouge web site, which is incredibly easy and fast and gives you access to the full rbr range. the only downside is that they ship via dhl, which means you can expect to have an extra 30-40% extorted from you when the goods arrive. seriously, i have had perhaps ten packages shipped to me via dhl in my entire life. of those, i would guess that at least seven had complications. your options are generally to give dhl a lot of money to make the complications go away or deal with customs yourself.

ironically, it's far easier to do the latter, but this time dhl didn't even give me the option. they just showed up at my house demanding payment for "work" they'd already done. i suppose i should count myself fortunate. at least they didn't break anything this time.

as annoyed as i was at having to pay the "dhl fine", i was mollified when i opened my magical package and my eyes feasted on the treasures therein. i am seriously running out of superlatives for this brand, even faster than i'm running out of space to store cosmetics. although i still check out reviews of their products whenever i can, it's more out of interest in seeing what they've done. when it comes to quality, i would order sight unseen based on what i've experienced thus far.

this order netted me three eye shadows and one "succulence of dew" semi-sheer lipstick. and all of these lived up to the standards of the brand, without question. i want to rant to you about how fabulous these products are, but i feel like i've already done so. what follows is as brief as i can manage to be.

24 January 2014

culinating


one of the [many] frustrating things about having to commute to the suburbs for work is that by the time i get home, i pretty much never have the energy to cook a nice dinner- the kind of dinner i like and that will make me happy. dom helps whenever he can, although the state of his health means that he doesn't have the energy to do a lot of prep work in the kitchen either. besides, i'm the one who loves to cook. during times [very few and far between, sadly] when i've been working closer to home, cooking a good meal at the end of the day was something i used to look forward to. but after having spent the better part of a year and a half telling myself that i would eventually push through and would arrive home with boundless energy. [the optimistic part of me has a weird sense of timing.]

in the meantime, i've compromised with a lot of prepackaged foods and ordering takeout more than i should, but i think i'm finally ready to face my problem head on. i need to uncomplicate

one of the reasons that i find the notion of cooking supper daunting is that there are usually so many steps involved. on some occasions when i have felt like making something, we've ended up eating dinner at ten o'clock at night, which is fine if you plan on going to bed at two, but if i did that i'd suffer sleep deprivation and go crazier. 

so the immediate challenge i've set for myself is to come up with healthy, tasty meals with as few ingredients as possible. and in keeping with my thoughts on what to do with the blog this year, i've decided to tell you about all this. because if i have to post pictures of it, i'm less likely to tell dom that we're having a bag of flour for dinner. 

22 January 2014

making faces :: the creme de les cremes with chanel and dior

cream products and i have a rocky relationship. well, not exactly. more often than not we have no relationship. despite my love of rich, unctuous products for the lips, i really hesitate when it comes to cream colour products anywhere else. i just haven't had good results.

when it comes to the eyes, the problem is that i've had allergic reactions to the majority of formulas i've tried, which makes it a little risky to keep trying new ones. mac paint pots are agreeable enough and i've managed to use some cream-gel eyeliners as shadow bases, but a lot of other types just haven't worked for me. i can wear benefit's creaseless cream shadows occasionally, but if more than once a week and they start to make me itch. mac's ill-fated "big bounce" shadows made my eyes swell nearly shut. the one time a makeup artist tried the illusion d'ombre formula from chanel on me, i ended up nearly scratching my eyes out to get rid of it a couple of hours later.

cream blushes can cause me some problems, particularly if i wear them frequently, but the greater issue i have with them is that i usually can't make them last until i leave the house, much less throughout the day, so it just never seems worth the investment.

last summer, as you might recall, i had a bit of a revelatory experience with dior's new [and sadly limited] cream blush formula. it was much drier than i was used to, but still very pigmented. it felt strangely spongy, different than anything i had ever encountered and i was sold on the spot. before the sales associate even had the chance to greet me, i was hopping up and down and hollering "this! want this!" well, that's how i remember it at least.

as the spring 2014 collections start to appear [mocking the misery that we feel, as it's currently -26 outside], i noticed that cream products are playing an increasingly prominent role. and when i passed the counter of dior's typically refined pastels, i noticed one thing that caught my eye: celeste.

CARRY ON...

20 January 2014

mental health mondays :: #bellletstalk 2014

despite my issues with them during my time as a customer, i salute bell canada for their work to promote awareness of mental health issues. in 2014, they'll once again be sponsoring "let's talk" where they will be donating money for all the text messages and calls made by bell mobile customers and all the tweets made using the hash tag #bellletstalk. you can find the details here. bell is also sponsoring a number of initiatives for workplace mental health and made a record donation to the kids help phone.

i've said this before, but it takes some fortitude to make mental illness a cause. most companies prefer funding disease research, children's charities or something with less of a stigma. so whatever you think of bell otherwise, they deserve some respect for the work they're doing in this field, specifically encouraging open discussion of mental disorders and an end to the stigma surrounding them.

here are some statistics on mental health in canada [mostly taken from the canadian mental health association and mood disorders canada] that shed light on the extent of the problem:

  • 1 in 5 canadians will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their life, with just over 10% of the population suffering from a mental disorder at any given time.
  • one third of hospital stays are due in whole or in part to a mental health problem
  • as of 2003, the estimated impact on the economy of mental illness in canada was $51 billion. 
  • mental illnesses account for 30% of short and long-term disability claims
  • in 2003, 1.9 million canadians were diagnosed with a mental disorder. another 1.6 million reported symptoms but were not diagnosed or treated.
  • the most common mental health issue among canadians is anxiety. approximately 12% of the population can expect to suffer some form of anxiety disorder at some point in their life. 
  • depression is the second most popular issue, with about 8% of the population suffering a major depressive episode. 
  • schizophrenia and bipolar disorder affect about 1% of the canadian population each. 
  • - depression is highest among those under twenty, while anxiety is highest among those from twenty to thirty years old. however, the group most likely to be hospitalized for a mental disorder is senior citizens. 
  • less than 4% of medical research funding is directed towards mental illness
  •  the suicide rates on first nations' reserves and in some inuit communities are among the highest in the world. 

- a 2009 study by the fraser institute found that the average wait time in canada for psychiatric treatment [the lag between a referral to a specialist and the commencement of treatment] was 16.8 weeks. it was shortest in prince edward island [6 weeks] and longest in newfoundland [21.5 weeks]. the wait to see a specialist in cases that were termed "urgent" was between 2.3 and 2.5 weeks.

the official day for the let's talk campaign this year is january 28th- next tuesday. so feel free to text, call or tweet and support the cause.

19 January 2014

making faces :: a second swing around the kaleidoscope

i didn't expect that it would be this long before i did a second review of products from armani's stunning fall kaleidoscope collection, but i allowed myself to become distracted with the splendour of, among other things, their new rouge ecstasy lipsticks and i can't very well put my entire makeup purchasing budget towards armani. [can i?]

the good news is that the products from this collection are hanging around. the limited edition cheek and eye palettes continue to be available on line and at some counters, as do the lipsticks and the eyes to kill shadows. in fact, on the armani web site, which i take to be the 'bible' of what is permanent and what is limited, both the eyes to kill shadows and the rouge d'armani lipsticks seem to have been shuffled over to the permanent collections, which is tremendous news for beauty fans everywhere. armani is definitely one of the pricier brands out there- on par with yves st. laurent, chanel and guerlain- so it's always nice to have the option of taking your time with purchases.

then again, it's also nice to indulge the part of you that screams "I WANT IT NOW!!!". [mine screams especially loud when i pass an armani counter.]

18 January 2014

making faces :: cheeky!

here's a quick post for you about one of my cosmetic experiments. i am by no means a professional, but i have assembled my own little laboratory...


[un]fortunately, i don't have an assistant to use as a guinea pig subject, so i have to work on myself. this is how tesla got started, i'm certain.

most makeup looks focus on whether to put the emphasis on the eyes or the lips, but i started to wonder: what if i lead with my cheeks? not those cheeks, perverts! [please never change, though.] rather than making the boldest element of a look my eyes or my lips, i thought that it would be fun to have blush be the star and the eyes and lips more supporting players. 

17 January 2014

well lit :: of makeup and maquiladoras

i'm not in the habit of making resolutions with the changing of the year, since they seem like one more way in which i'm likely to disappoint myself, but i did quietly tell myself on january 1st that i want to read more than i have in the last couple of years. i feel like i haven't been keeping pace.

also, a friend of mine posted a list of nearly fifty books he read in 2013 on facebook and i felt ashamed. shame is way more motivating than it gets credit for.

to start off the year, i have re-committed myself to roberto bolano's 2666, which is sort of like saying you want to get more exercise and entering yourself in a triathlon. it is a great undertaking in several senses: i'm enjoying it greatly, it is an extraordinarily well-written and it is massive. i'd started reading it last year, but it fell by the wayside when burnout and depression started to get the better of me. i've since realised that staking out ground for things that engage my mind is a way of staving off things like burnout and depression to begin with.

it's sort of a strange piece of happenstance that i connected with this book at all, because i hadn't heard of it or its author before a couple of years ago.  came across it randomly while searching for information on the notoriously violent city of juarez, mexico.

i don't know why, but the mexican border area has long held a sort of uncomfortable fascination. when i was in my early teens, a classmate once told me about the horror of the maquiladoras, a seemingly lawless zone where corporate overlords operated what amounted to industrial slave plantations in a tax-free haven just inside mexico. she told me that the air was so polluted you could see black clouds looming over the ground from a distance. workers were paid barely enough money to allow them to continue breathing. the police were dirty, which meant that mexican labour law was never enforced, so conditions were dangerous. people died every week in horrifying ways.

i don't know if i believed every word she told me, but this nightmarish junction of the industrial and developing worlds became lodged in my mind. i was reminded of it when the north american free trade agreement was forced through, expanding the maquiladoras and increasing the numbers of poor, desperate for any kind of work. and i was reminded of it again when i heard reports that in the area near juarez, women were turning up murdered in alarming numbers, something which was to continue for a decade.

later on, i ended up working for a company one of whose manufacturing facilities was in mexico. i'm not sure whether it was naivete or denial, but it took me some time to realise what that meant: that i was working for a company that used one of the maquiladoras that had haunted my imagination for years. of course, my coworkers who'd had occasion to go there assured me that it wasn't so bad. the workers were treated well. it was just like an american factory. which i'm sure it was. but i noticed that they always stayed in a hotel on the american side of the border. [in fact, the closest hotel on the american side of the border was purportedly haunted and although no one would admit to believing in ghosts, none of them ever stayed there, preferring instead the poltergeist-free environs of a hotel a little further down the highway.]

15 January 2014

embracing our worst selves

i was bullied when i was in school, between about the ages of nine and thirteen and it was hell.

i've never said that before, or at least i've never said it in exactly that way. i've told people that i was 'unpopular'. i've joked about my outcast status in retrospect and wear it as a badge of honour. i've laughed it off as a sign that i felt superior to those people who made me miserable. i've spoken dispassionately about that period of my life as being uninteresting, an empty space before i started going to a school large enough and diverse enough that i was no longer an obvious target. i've talked about other students being mean to me. but i'd never called it bullying.

at the time, calling someone a bully would have been laughed at, because it was assumed that children being mean to each other was just something that happened, something that toughened you up for the rest of your life, but something that was no big deal. bullying now is understood as something serious and potentially dangerous, something that needs to be addressed. but at the time, i didn't say anything because i didn't have a good word to apply to what was going on. i didn't have a word that conveyed the helplessness i felt being tormented for simply being.

even since we've come to understand bullying as something pernicious, though, i've been reticent to apply the term to my own experience for one reason: part of me still felt ashamed for what had happened and for how much it had hurt me.

when i was nine, i changed schools. i'd done that before, but in this case i ended up going to a very small school in a wealthy area alongside the children of the city's best-known families in a city where being well-known [for the right reasons] was important. i can see how i was an easy mark. i was an only child. i already had trouble relating to other children, having been raised mostly around adults. i was clumsy and bad at sports. my parents were divorced at a time when that was still relatively uncommon. we were well enough off, but i wasn't rich like most of the kids in my class and at the same time i lacked the toughness and defiance of the poor kids that garnered them some respect. almost from the day i was at that school, i drew insults, mockery and a few blows for no reason that i could figure out. at that point, i still thought that children needed a logical reason to be cruel to one another.

the bullying wasn't constant. it would be every day for a few months and then it would unexpectedly stop. sometimes, a couple of the people in my class would behave like my friend, inviting me over for lunch or after school and i would be lulled into thinking that the worst was behind me. then after a couple of weeks, i would suddenly be cast out again and shamed for the things they'd managed to find out about me by winning my trust. i'd fall for that trap every time and it made me furious with myself- i'm still furious with myself as i'm typing this and these are events that happened thirty years ago. i just wanted someone to connect with. what's worse, i knew my mother, still regaining her footing after taking the leap to divorce, wanted me to fit in. neither of us understood why i couldn't succeed socially when it was so damned easy for other people, but i couldn't. it was my fault. i was weird.

most of the violence wasn't physical. i did get punched in the face once or twice and on one occasion got pinned down while another girl yanked my skirt over my head in a show of power, but for the most part what i experienced was being derided, insulted, threatened and made fun of every time i spoke, moved, or even made eye contact with another person. so i developed the habit of doing everything i could to become invisible. i stopped speaking in class, stopped participating in anything outside of school, stopped trying to engage in any way. my grades dropped and i got in trouble from my mother and my teachers. i just wanted them to leave me alone and let me be invisible because if they would stop acknowledging my existence then other people would too and then the abuse would stop. that's a heavy thing for a kid to think- that they want to stop existing- but i did. i thought about it all the time.

i wasn't a saint, either. i'd pick on others when i perceived a weakness because i felt like as long as i could do that, i could tell myself i wasn't at the absolute bottom of the heap. but it didn't take me long to figure out that wasn't the case. eventually, my social catatonia stopped that reflex too. [i'd like to say, on the off chance that someone who was the object of my unkindness reads this, that i've continued to feel guilty over all the intervening years.]

as for the people responsible, there were a number of them. different people at different times took thier shots at me. some were boys, but most were girls, since social groups tended to fall along gender lines. some were worse than others. one of them- one who made an art of friending and un-friending me before mark zuckerberg was even born- perversely morphed into a sort of friendly acquaintance by high school and we've even reconnected through facebook. she'd probably be surprised to know that i still think of her primarily as someone who bullied me in elementary school. people who are cruel don't remember the damage they do.

i've no idea what happened to any of the other principal offenders. well, that's not quite true. i've researched a few of them on line just to see what might have become of them, but most seem to have disappeared. i like to think of them trapped in miserable, unfulfilling lives, as petty as that is. i know i shouldn't, but i do. childhood bullying is the sort of thing you have to get over and, for the most part, i have. i'm not the most social person in the world, but i'm a far cry from the girl who wanted to disappear. my life started to improve in high school and has, in a gradual way, continued to improve ever since. but that doesn't mean that i've forgotten what happened, or that i don't feel that little flutter of fear in my heart when i think back to that time.

that last paragraph doesn't speak well of me. i'm admitting up front that i'm vindictive, that i wish harm on people for what was more or less average behaviour. and now i'm going to make that worse: when i was in high school, the father of one of my frequent elementary school tormentors- whose incredible popularity made her a particularly feared enemy- faced a family crisis. her father committed suicide. i distinctly remember feeling happy that she'd had some pain in her life, without an iota of human empathy. how horrible is that? i hadn't even spoken to her in years by that time, but the fact that she'd lost her father at a difficult age gave me some sort of pleasure, because she had been unkind to me. i'm telling you this so that you have the opportunity to decide that you can't sympathize with my mindset and walk [or click] away before i get to my ultimate point.

13 January 2014

making faces :: spring back

now that all the spring 2013 collections are popping up like crocuses in the soil of beauty counters, i figured that it's about time i got around to reviewing a couple of items that actually came out last spring. i'm not as slack as all that, i only recently managed to get my little paws on these two, but there's no excuse for that, since they're so absolutely magnificent that they deserved to have been snatched up as soon as they were released. wait, did i just give a spoiler of my own blog post?

the two shadows in question come from british-russian dream-weavers rouge bunny rouge and if you know anything about me, you know that there was no way that i would be content with limiting myself to two eye shadows when i haven't ordered anything from the brand in months. so this review will touch on a handful of products that have recently come into my collection and, at the risk of repeating the spoiler, yes, everything is delightful and you should go out and buy all of it now without bothering to read the rest of this blog post. unless you really love reading my blog posts, in which case i'm going to get all teary-eyed.

of course, you might want to make sure that the shades i'm about to discuss are appropriate for your skin tone, but one of the wonderful things about rouge bunny rouge is that their shades are very neutral and adaptable, so that most people will find them workable.

RIGHT THIS WAY FOR SWATCHES AND MORE...

mental health mondays :: when the right makes two wrongs

i don't put a lot of stock in arguments from the nra as to why factors other than the ludicrously lax gun laws in america are chiefly responsible for the amount of gun violence there. i believe that the only way to effectively reduce gun crimes is to limit the number and power of weapons available to the general public and that the men who wrote the constitution and the bill of rights never envisioned their second amendment being used in the way it is by the pro-gun lobby. that's my opinion and while i believe it's correct, it's clear that there are other opinions about this, particularly among the right flank of american politicians.

one of the latest scapegoats/ explanations for gun violence in the aftermath of mass murders in colorado, connecticut and at a military base near washington is the country's method of dealing with mental health issues. and for once, the right wing and i are in agreement that something needs fixing and that having more comprehensive gun control will be of limited use if people with severe mental disorders have greater access to weapons than they do to healthcare. at least, i thought that we were in agreement until my good friend martin sent me this article regarding senator al franken's initiative to improve funding for mental health support.

as i mentioned, i don't think that mental illness is responsible for all or even most of the gun violence in the united states, but if you're going to argue that it is, then it helps to put your money where your mouth is. you can't just say "this is a serious problem" and then actively block efforts to solve it. or at least, if you do, you should have to make your explanation clear.

the argument that individual states should be responsible for health care is pretty tenuous. it's a libertarian fallback position absolving the federal government from responsibility for doing just about anything, other than those things which are equally necessary for all the states, but beyond the capacity of individual states to provide. however, i think there's a very compelling argument that access to mental healthcare is exactly that kind of thing. resources vary wildly from one region to another, but the danger presented by a mentally ill person determined to cause harm to others is equal, no matter where one lives. [note :: i mean that the danger would be equal wherever the situation exists, not that there are equal numbers of people with mental disorders in every area of the country.]

the importance of states' rights may be another point on which right wing politicians and i differ. but eventually, i hope that some enterprising journalist will see fit to ask one of the men who has blocked this legislation what they are doing to combat the problem of mental illness combined with gun violence. we're very aware of what they're doing to stop individual initiatives, but i don't see a lot of action directed towards fixing it. this, really, is the larger issue. politicians can list off their reasons for opposing individual pieces of legislation ad infinitum, but if they're going to justify their salaries, they also need to provide an alternate vision.

of course, no one will likely ask those questions, because they've not been asked before. senator tom coburn is notable for having opposed multiple efforts engineered to get help for returning veterans. senator mike lee from utah was one of the strongest advocates of the government shutdown late last year and his most recent piece of legislation is actually designed to block the influence of the supreme court's decision to legalize marriage equality. [to be fair, lee has also done some proactive work on easing the burden on the american prison system.] instead of having to answer the hard questions, politicians like lee and coburn are able to skate their way around by shrugging and saying it's someone else's problem.

in the meantime, conditions in the united states remain dire for many in need of mental healthcare and as long as there are people who are content to view their job as being to oppose legislation they don't 100% agree with as opposed to fighting for legislation that will solve real problems, it seems like little is going to change.

10 January 2014

making faces :: best of 2013 [the third annual more like space shrunken head awards]

yes, it's that time again. actually, it's past that time. most people have already done their lists of what they loved most this year, which leaves this one a little beyond its best before date. sort of like our mascot.

for those of you who are shocked by her but not so shocked that you've run away, i inaugurated the shrunken head awards in 2011 as a tribute to the notion that it beauty is both fleeting and skin deep, a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that beauty is temporary, but also has the power to make us feel like something precious, like a work of human art. also, i just love the idea of having a shrunken head trophy. many thanks to dom for doing some work on her this year, to make her even more special.

looking back at 2013's beauty offerings, i feel a little overwhelmed. i'm not pleased to see that a number of brands are starting to lean towards the mac cosmetics new and limited collections in rapid succession model. it makes things exciting, yes, but also exhausting and it means that it's increasingly tempting to just roll your eyes and walk away from the tornado of "new! new! new!" that's perpetually spinning. that's not to say that i don't appreciate some newness, though. in fact, the brands that really shone last year were the ones who i felt managed their "news" and balanced it with solid colour offerings and reliable availability. increasingly, as i get older and crankier, that last point is becoming a thing with me. i don't want to chase after items all the time. occasionally it's fun, but when you hear about on line waiting rooms and collapsing servers and raincheques and... well, it just starts to take up too many brain cells.

but enough of me complaining, let's look at the good, or at least my version of it, that came from 2013... let's hand out some shrunken heads!

07 January 2014

making faces :: never enough nakedness

i was late hopping onto the naked palette bandwagon, but when i finally got one, i have to say, i understood why something as obvious as a palette of neutral eye shadows was so popular. i mean, i understood that they were easy to wear, but a well-priced palette of a dozen shadows was a boon for traveling, rushed mornings, and all those other times when you don't want to hunt through your collection for certain colours, but you still want to be able to play around a little. i never ended up grabbing the second instalment of the naked series, which is odd, because it was a little more neutral than the first palette and, as such, would likely have been more suited to my complexion. i did, however, jump when i saw the release of "naked 3", which came out just before the holidays at sephora.

many of you have probably already seen swatches and reviews of the palette, but i figured that it was still worth adding my two cents [which is, interestingly, now an impossibility in the country where i live]. and although the palette is now out of stock in many locations and on line at sephora, it is joining its naked brethren in urban decay's permanent pantheon. [part of me is thinking that i'd like to start taking odds on which one of the naked palettes will be the first to get the axe when sales inevitably start to wane.]

the most talked about aspect of this palette is its "rose gold-ness", the incorporation of pinkish tones into the mix alongside the warmth of shimmering golds and coppers. as such, it seems to form a more cohesive whole than the previous two entries, which had an array of neutrals from molten to chilled. this will make the palette more useful to those who wear such colours well- there's unlikely to be a single shade that you can't pull off- but it's a bit risky in that the palette is likely to be a washout for anyone who can't wear [or who doesn't like to wear] rosier colours.

that said, i do think that these shades are going to work well enough on a lot of skin tones. i've heard mixed reports from women of colour, but one thing that many people appreciate about urban decay is that their shadows are beautifully pigmented and therefore show up better on pigmented skin. the quality of the shadows in "naked 3" is in keeping with what we've come to expect, in mostly good ways. [i'll get to the not-so-good way shortly.]

06 January 2014

mental health mondays [addendum] :: it's the most horrible time of the year

i'm somewhat embarrassed to have found this out only after i posted mhm, but i couldn't possibly let the day go by without mentioning that today is blue monday, the sobriquet for the most depressing day of the entire year. the day has been a moveable feast, but this year, it's been determined by people who get off determining such things that january 6th is the absolute low point. so while you might be feeling pretty low at the moment, keep in mind:
  • misery loves company and misery will never have as much company as it does at this very moment

  • statistically speaking, tomorrow is going to be better. 

  • the amount of daylight per day, a crucial factor in mood, has already started to increase. 

you're welcome.


mental health mondays :: craziness for the kid in all of us

a friend of mine posted this on facebook this weekend and while the concept has been done before [for the muppets as well], i really do love the visual aid that was included.


of course, no one on these shows actually discusses mental disorders, but there is that underlying message that eccentricities of various sorts are not merely acceptable but can be endearing. regardless, they are things that are accepted in the "friend-sphere" of the shows, which strikes me as a pretty positive way to start a new year of mental health mondays. there will be plenty of opportunity for more weighty discussions as the year progresses. let's take a moment on this first monday of the new year to smile a little.

the full accompanying article that goes with this reference chart can be found here.

03 January 2014

making faces :: the fallback face

one of the things i like about doing posts on what makeup i wear is that it sometimes forces me to think outside the cosmetic box [who are we kidding- boxes]. it keeps me experimenting with techniques and colours that i might not otherwise use.

but the fact is that there are still a lot of days when i go into default mode and start pulling out the same group of products, or at least grabbing from the same shade ranges and for all the experimentation i might enjoy, those colours have been very similar for the last ten or fifteen years. the individual shades in the palette have varied- they still do- but we're talking about the same basics. and since i hadn't shared what those are before, i thought i might as well do so now.

everybody, this is the kate that most people see on a daily basis at work, out shopping, even lounging around the house writing blog posts and playing with cats.

SHE'S HIDING JUST AFTER THE BREAK...

we made it!

if you're reading this, congratulations, you're ALIVE! that's actually an accomplishment, since several the holiday season is actually the deadliest time of year [thanks a lot drunk drivers and high-fat dinners]. so if you're alive now, the odds are slightly higher in favour of your surviving for almost another year.
studies have shown that

of course, if you've been living in the corner of the world where i am, or really anywhere in the extended neighbourhood, chances are that you've thought death would be an improvement at least once already this year. yes, it's cold. and i know everyone says that, but i really mean it. it's deathly cold over a great swath of canada and the united states, enough that our brains have frozen up and are unable to contemplate anything other than how extremely cold and miserable it is. you've heard the comparisons about how parts of canada have been colder than mars. [winnipeg has been the measuring stick, but honestly, it's been about the same temperature from the prairies all the way out to the east coast, which is in itself news-worthy] in truth, we've only been as cold as the equatorial part of mars, so the comparison wouldn't be totally apt unless you were referring to rio or lagos hitting -35C. nonetheless, when your measuring stick for cold is located several million kilometres further away from the sun, suffice it to say that what you're talking about is pretty extreme.

what's worse is that there's also been significant snowfall. while a lot of businesses have reopened along the eastern seaboard, a lot of simply announced that they weren't going to risk it. for those of you not familiar with canadian winter [yes, many of us go through this every year], nature is usually polite enough to give you a choice: either it's killer cold or it snows. seriously, you will hear people say without irony that they wish it would warm up enough to snow. that's the usual bargain, but this year, apparently fed up with our louche environmental ways, nature apparently decided it was time for a little "up yours" to one of the planet's most active regions.

i would also like to point out that this is particularly frustrating for those of us in canada, for whom this is actually the second winter wave of brutal cold and heavy snow this winter. well, not even this winter, because the first wave came before the season had officially changed. normally, we get through these things by telling ourselves "it's really just a few weeks" and getting our doctors to increase our medication, but when winter unexpectedly kicked our backsides in late november/ early december, the seasonal deal was clearly off. no we're shivering in our huts, with literally no idea if spring will come or if we've entered a new ice age with very little warning.

checking the trusty farmer's almanac, it says that we here in canada, at least my area of it, should expect a winter that's mild and wet. we've had the wet, can we please get the mild?

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